Fred Burkle Blue

The Earth Her Body - Fic by La Noyee, (and random thoughts about the women of the 'verse) (1/?)

ETA: Additional screencaps added below cut - which has also been added. (Post in haste, repent at leisure.)

Take a Moment: by   lanoyee. Gen, Buffy, Tara, Dawn. A "deleted scene" , post-"Grave"; Buffy bids a friend good-bye. Spare, elegant and melancholy, it's a scene I wish had been in the show.  One of the things I love best about BtVS is how unsentimental it is generally, but sometimes, what I want and what I need are one and the same; no one else can determine that for me. This story gives me both, and it honors one of the most overlooked friendships in the Buffyerse: Buffy and Tara.


lanoyee  recently began transferring some of her female-centric & Buffy-centric meta from her tumblr to her LJ because I begged at my request. In our conversations about one of our favorite shared subjects, the interrelationships of the women on BtVS, the same words kept coming up over and over: overlooked, underestimated, underappreciated, etc. When it comes to Buffy especially, her relationships with other women generate a lot less ink, as far as I can tell, than her relationships with the men in her life; it's easy to forget how central Joyce, Dawn, Willow, Faith etc are to Buffy's story, to her heart. Spike and Angel may be in her heart; Joyce and Dawn are her heart, they are her blood. And yet at the same time the show demonstrates that importance of "not in blood but in bond" relationships, to quote Kikimay's recent comment.


[Love the ladies of the Buffyverse? Welcome home...]
"Take a Moment" was written shortly after a conversation lanoyee & I had about Buffy & Tara in particular, i.e. Why doesn't anyone talk about their relationship? About Tara's role in Buffy's story? Because it's not something I need to fanwank out of thin air, or squint to see: It's right there onscreen; they have a connection to one another that Buffy never shares with Anya, or at least until "Selfless" brings the "Xander's Lie" arc full circle. pocochina thankfully mentions their connection in her 2011 meta character study of Tara, summing it up in quick, vivid strokes in just two paragraphs.

I'd call Buffy & Tara my OTF (one true friendship) except that's bullshit: aside from Buffy being my favorite character in the 'verse (and possibly in fiction, period) when it comes to this show, I may prefer certain things but I don't "OT_" anything. But FUFAW (Favorite Underappreciated Friendship Among Women) is pretty unwieldy, and sound like either a disease or something two cats would do in an alley.

Tara may not get a lot of time on the show, and she and Buffy rarely interact directly but she plays a key or essential role in some of the best episodes of the series, and when she does, she not only sings, she soars: "Hush", which both mirrors and flips Buffy and Willow's first encounters in "WTTH"; "Who are You", in which she is the only character to realize that Faith isn't really Buffy, and she's never even met Buffy before; "Restless", as a dream guide to Buffy her connection to Dawn, as a sister, becomes explicit; "Family" begins with Buffy verbally committing to protect Dawn from Glory after learning that Dawn isn't "real", and ends with Buffy and Dawn protecting Tara from the Maclays and naming her as one of their own: "Who do you think you are?" / "We're family."  (I recently rewatched that episode waiting for a conversation between Buffy and Tara at the end at Tara's birthday party, and was shocked to realize it wasn't in the episode at all, but rather from snowpuppies's  fic "Here Comes the Sun" )
Speaking the words: "family" "sisters" "Summers blood" makes the commitment as physical and as real as mixing her own blood with Dawn's in BT.

Not in blood alone, but in bond.


The relationships between the women of the Buffyverse aren't an afterthought, something set to the side, they are absolutely central to it; and unlike most tv and movies shows I grew up with, the women of the Buffyverse don't relate only to the men, who in contrast enjoy rich friendships with one another. (Remember the popularity of the "buddy movie" esp in the 1980's?) That, for me, is one of the strengths of the Buffyverse. The women matter, and they matter to one another, as literal and metaphorical mothers, sisters, daughters, rivals, friends, and allies. They love, and choose to love, even when it's painful and difficult to do so.





And this may be behind my frustration or impatience with Angel, Riley and Giles. Yes, they have to leave, yes I get it, blah blah bitty blah. They can't stand the "fire" of love, so they get out of the kitchen, out of "women's space" literally and figuratively. I could devote an entire meta just to "Joyce's kitchen" as symbol of the Mother Principal, of Mater. The room where Buffy fights to protect Joyce in "Angel" and "Ted", where they have their worst fight in "Becoming Pt 2", where Joyce reaffirms her admiration and pride in Buffy in "Helpless", is also the room we associate with Tara's pancakes, and Spike fights for Buffy in "Touched". (The Mother Principle is not about literal gender.) It means something. They "chose" Mater and reaffirm the importance of love - raw, real, and messy love in all it's aspects, not the illusion of "romance". They bear witness to one another: you're important. You matter. I love you. I believe in you. Yes you fucked up, but you can do better next time. I understand you - or maybe I don't, but I can offer you comfort.

It's why we don't see Angel and Riley in the final battle in "Chosen" nor should we. It's why Giles absolutely has to "bend his knee" to the Warrior of the People, the Queen - and thank the stars that she is a benevolent one - if he expects to stand next to Buffy at the end.  Or rather, behind her, in the final scene.

And it's one reason - of many - why Tara's absence in "Chosen" hurts so deeply; she earned the right to be there. Not as Willow's lover, not as a "perfect, faultless human being" (which she isn't, despite the tendency to canonize her as saint), and not even as Buffy's friend but as a powerful woman in her own right.

If I don't go into the politics overmuch here it's because I have a LOT more to say on the subject and am saving it for the moment; but also because it's dominated the discussion re: Tara for over ten years. Rage or silence and little in between the two. If I focus on her death, then I fail to celebrate her life, and it's worth celebrating. Her very existence as the first three-dimensional lesbian character in a realistic lesbian relationship is worth celebrating. And deserves a much better legacy than shameful silence and lack of any such characters that still exists  - or rather, doesn't exist - in US television ten years later.


As long as we share her story she'll never lack for mourners and lovers, but if we fail to do so then she "dies", utterly and completely.
(sorry, wrong account!)

I was always a little sad Buffy and Tara never got more screen time together. As someone who also lost her mother young and pretty much had to take care of herself, Tara was someone Buffy had a lot in common with. But I think there were multiple strikes against them developing a really close friendship - on the one hand, Willow kind of wanted to keep Tara to herself, and not let her get absorbed by the Scooby force field. And on the other, once Willow loosened up a little, we started to get into S5 and the beginning of Buffy closing herself off. And then in S6, although desperation drove Buffy to confide in Tara, the situation with Willow again made things awkward, and Buffy doesn't seem to have continued to seek her out post OAFA.

Oddly, I once had one of the biggest arguments I ever had with a beta over some lines of Buffy and Tara dialogue...
(sorry, wrong account!)

You had us both confused for a moment. *lol* No worries, I deleted the other post. I've been meaning to ask you how the hell you all manage to do what you do with the herald ever since spuffy_luvr told me she thought you actually screen everything you link to? It makes me headachy just to think of it.

I was always a little sad Buffy and Tara never got more screen time together. As someone who also lost her mother young and pretty much had to take care of herself, Tara was someone Buffy had a lot in common with.

I was beginning to think I was crazy for thinking that, so yay! When I started writing meta notes about them I noticed how they both are deeply bonded with loving but imperfect mothers who are the centers of their emotional worlds, and both have issues with fathers who are either absent (Hank) or abusive/overcontrolling (Mr Maclay). And so forth. They are both very loyal and loving but also stubborn at times, but express it in very different ways. Has anyone ever written a Tara the Vampire Slayer fic? Or Tara being the one called after Kendra (or Faith's) death? That could be nifty.

And they both have a strain of dogmatism in their thinking that's been handed down from their "fathers" - lies their parents told them, indeed. ("the Chosen One" "demons bad, Humans Good" "all the women in our family are demons, you're just like them" etc)

I love how they protect each other and Tara offers Buffy comfort but I'm also really interested in Tara's symbolic or metaphorical role in Buffy's story as well as her literal one, and I haven't see a lot written about that or the two of them in fic or meta. I have a series in mind but rather than the whiny "Why doesn't fandom write about these two, WHY?" I was trying for the "ac-cen-tu-ate the positive/be the change I wanted to see" approach.

But that is a curious thing to me: fanfic/ fandom is the place where we can fantasize or fill in the gaps and I guess that's a gap that people haven't been interested in filling? Maybe because I didn't really get interested in Tara as a person in her own right until S6 (OMWF/TR).

But I think there were multiple strikes against them developing a really close friendship

Very much so, yes. I understand Willow's stance of "wanting to keep Tara for herself"; I remember those days of early relationship with my sweetie and how we just FUSED into each other (every lesbian couple I knew in those days did the same - is that a lesbian thing or a universal thing?) but at the same time I know now how unhealthy it is to cut yourself or others off from the outside world, your friends and resources, etc. esp once the "honeymoon phase" is over.

the situation with Willow again made things awkward, and Buffy doesn't seem to have continued to seek her out post OAFA.

The writers did use Tara as a plot device, sadly, most of the time - hell, her entire initial purpose was a plot device and she was supposed to die so Joss could have his "Dark Willow" storyline after Seth Green left. They really could have done so much more with her, and Amber Benson seemed game for it once they gave her the chance in S6.

I do recall Willow being jealous about Tara and Buffy connecting because they both lost their mothers in TL. NOT one of Willow's finer moments but it got pushed aside after Tara was tortured by Glory. The dialogue does seem to imply that Buffy and Tara had connected with each other more than that one time in The Body, which Willow wasn't privvy to? Otherwise, Willow's jealousy doesn't quite make sense. I need to rewatch the ep, though.

I once had one of the biggest arguments I ever had with a beta over some lines of Buffy and Tara dialogue...

About what exactly? Care to share? *perks up* Was this in one of the POM/Barbsverse stories?
O-oh my. You know, I gave my okay to this, but I'm getting a bit fluttery now. Waah! ♥

Also, I'll have you know that your choice of screencaps is PERSONALLY OFFENSIVE TO ME. >( By which I actually mean they're wonderful, but so very, very heartbreaking. /sobs eternally

I mean Buffy going to hug Tara and being SO HAPPY TO SEE HER? And Joyce and Buffy and Buffy and Dawn and that shot from The Body and /FLAILS.

I'm okay, really.

and unlike most tv and movies shows I grew up with

Haaa, I think I'm luckier there. I had things like Astrid Lindgren and Fantaghiró and such.

Not in blood alone, but in bond.

That is a beautiful way of putting it. Points to Kikimay!

and choose to love

YESSS I love that aspect. Love as a choice, a conscious effort. Love can be an emotion, but it can also be a deliberate act.

I could devote an entire meta just to "Joyce's kitchen" as symbol of the Mother Principal, of Mater.

You did realize writing this that I was going to get on enabling you to do this post-haste, right. /dangles cookies

Ah, but what you already have is so great! Put like that, the Mother Principle is indeed at the heart of the show, and it is the most valuable thing to attain and practice. It trumps violence and aggression and competition. It is also the bravest thing you can do.

Edited at 2013-06-17 10:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing these thoughts, sweetie.

I'm fond of the Buffy/Tara friendship too and I wished there had been more of a tribute to Tara when she died.
That's pretty much what inspired 's fic (rec'd above) - we were talking about that very point and then she just came out with that, as if it were nothing. I really admire that; and I'm always happy for more!

Yes, it really felt like there needed to be more. Even in Villians/TTG(?) I kept waiting in that car ride for Buffy to ask Willow "Where's Tara? Is she ok?" It emphasized just how much of a plot device Tara had been after all to M.E. *grumble*

The scene where Buffy & Xander find Dawn in the bedroom with Tara's corpse? It echoes Buffy finding Joyce in the body but at least we see Joyce's face. JESUS was that scene cold. Poor Dawn.
Damn. There is no time for me to gush about Buffy and Tara's relationship right now (the library is kicking me out), but I'll do so later tonight when I can read this more carefully!
Re: Mater. You briefly mentioned Spike in the kitchen, but there was also the scene of him laughing with Joyce and Dawn, perfectly comfortable in the kitchen, in the woman's space. And that's the difference between Spike and Angel and Riley (do we ever see them in the kitchen? Or is it a likely glaring but purposeful blank in my mind?): They're the alpha male type. They can't follow a woman as her second-in-command, and Spike can. With Spike, Buffy remains the hero, as she should be. Because Spike understands women better than they (Angel and Riley) do. What was the point of the Wife of Bath's tale in The Canterbury Tales? That women want to be queen. Riley and Angel are he-man "I want to be king, dammit!" types, and Spike's a "I'm fine being the prince consort" kind of guy.

That's about as coherent as I can be right now.

Also: what if there was space for Tara and Spike to be bffs? That's one of my favorite things in fic. Buffy/Dawn/Spike/Tara is my happy family OT4.
but there was also the scene of him laughing with Joyce and Dawn, perfectly comfortable in the kitchen, in the woman's space

I was talking to comlodge who is a HUGE Spike fan, about my ideas about Spike and Mater, and she agreed that he looses his way in that regard in S6. Buffy and Spike both do, obviously - and they both need to find that again, regain that balance within themselves. Mater and Logos. (I know Pater is the equivalent term of Mater, but Logos gets the point across better IMO.)

And that's the difference between Spike and Angel and Riley (do we ever see them in the kitchen? Or is it a likely glaring but purposeful blank in my mind?): They're the alpha male type.

YES to all of this; I've said elsewhere that the two of them are far more alike than either one of them would like to believe. Superficially they seem very different, but there's a core of paternalistic, rigid & dogmatic thinking; and they both hold very tightly to "male priviledge". I think they are genuinely attracted to Buffy's strength on one level but neither is as "progressive" in that regard as they'd like to think they are. (Of course the show sends some very mixed messages in that regard esp Riley at the end.)

Re: the kitchen - the one time I remember Angel there is in "Angel"(S1?) holding Joyce after Darla has wounded her (and he's immediately tossed out the window by Buffy, who thinks he hurt Joyce. She was wrong, but I love it anyway.) And Riley is seen in the kitchen with Buffy, laughing with her at the beginning of The Real Me (the introduction of Dawn). They seem very comfortable with each other and very happy. (Sarah is so cute there - seeing Buffy happy as late as S5 reminds me how much I miss that in S6 & 7. *hugs Buffy*)

I don't recall him in the kitchen otherwise; but I do remember he was the only one of Buffy's lovers/boyfriends Joyce approves on the show. Which is no wonder - Riley kind of reminds me of Hank in a way. (there's a subtle connection from Hank to Ted to Riley to RJ.)

They can't follow a woman as her second-in-command, and Spike can.

They can as long as they feel entirely confident about themselves. Angel subtly manipulates, Riley is less so. And Spike can but again, loses his way for a while. Giving in to the steady drumbeat (since S5) of you love me we belong together etc etc is one of Buffy's worst mistakes because she starts to go down his path rather than leader him along her's, and it turns into a terrible power struggle between them.

Whereas S7 is the reversal of that - negotiating and sharing power in a new way. And it's no wonder that Giles and Angel are still policing Buffy's private life in S7 (as Riley does in AYW); they're still stuck in the rigid old paradigm. Buffy and Spike have moved on.

Riley and Angel are he-man "I want to be king, dammit!" types, and Spike's a "I'm fine being the prince consort" kind of guy.

Which of course is why I ship Buffy&Spike in S7 so hard it's not even funny. And that's the EXACT same word I've often used: I think of Spike as Buffy's consort that season. (Or each other's consorts, so as to not offend anyone. *lol*)

what if there was space for Tara and Spike to be bffs? That's one of my favorite things in fic. Buffy/Dawn/Spike/Tara is my happy family OT4.

I like the idea of the four of them as a family in theory - in practice, Buffy tends to get left out of the equation. Or rather, there's plenty of fics in which each of them relate not to one another but only to Spike, and there's something about that I find problematic - that the women exist not in relation to one another but to confirm the male character as the center of the universe. There's Spike & Tara or Spike/Tara (I have ISSUES with that pairing), lots of Spike & Dawn; but very little Buffy & Tara & Dawn. :(

Now if someone wrote the sort of fic you described? Sure, I'd go for that. I actually do like the idea of Tara and Spike balancing one another with Buffy in between them as the "centerpoint" but I don't think I've seen it done. If you know of any such please point me towards it. (I don't suppose you'd write such a fic and make me a very happy fangirl? *offers extra cookies*)
Spike and Angel may be in her heart; Joyce and Dawn are her heart

So much this. That's why I don't understand (and don't like) all the hate that Dawn gets in fandom. She is absolutely essential to Buffy's story. Plus she's cute as a button! I love her and their sisterly bond.
That's why I don't understand (and don't like) all the hate that Dawn gets in fandom.

Right? Then again I also don't get all the vitriol thrown at Buffy, Kennedy, Willow, etc. Dislike a character? Sure? Dislike what they do on the show? Absolutely, they all do "unlikeable" things, they are all disagreeable at times.

But outright buckets and buckets of hate? At some point I think it's an expression of the hatred for women we still have in our culture but also, the sometimes lazy "hive mind" of fandom, where it gets very easy to "join the crowd". (This coming from a woman who has been dumping on Riley lately so...I confess to my own hypocrisy. *gulp*) And also, women are expected to "do better and be better", whereas on some level I don't think that guys are held to as high a standard? Boys will be boys and all that. (And aside from valid reasons people have to dislike the direction of the later seasons, I honestly think that the same holds true of Joss vs Marti. Joss is "God", blah blah; Marti is the devil; nothing she did right is noted. FTN.)

My other theory is that the Dawn haters have never had younger sisters. Or maybe they have. IDK.

She is absolutely essential to Buffy's story.

Back to point #1. I've seen "Buffy is nobody's favorite character" on the internet more time than I can count. If people hate Buffy then maybe it's no surprise that they hate Dawn as well? the two sisters actually share a lot of personality characteristics while still being very much their own people. I guess if you dislike the one you'll dislike the other. Or you'll find a way to disconnect Dawn from Buffy and disregard their relationship. That's why I think there is tons of Spike & Dawn fic out there, far more than the amount of Buffy & Dawn fics, even though people "hate Dawn"? But they don't hate Dawn with Spike? I think we're back full circle - people hate Buffy. And, female characters exist only to validate the male characters. Which is what 99% of our media has been about but that is NOT this show.

Plus she's cute as a button! I love her and their sisterly bond.

That's the same phrase I use for Sarah - cute as button. I understand casting Michelle was Sarah's idea and I really think it was a brilliant move on her part; their chemistry is terrific. I actually believe them as sisters, and that's pretty rare.
I'm glad you decided to post this! Buffy and Tara have one of my favorite friendships on the show. They have that wonderful solid trust by the back half of S5, and they are so clearly doing their best for each other in S6. It doesn't unrealistically Fix Everything about Buffy's depression or Tara's betrayal by Willow, but it's so strong and real.

"Family" begins with Buffy verbally committing to protect Dawn from Glory after learning that Dawn isn't "real", and ends with Buffy and Dawn protecting Tara from the Maclays and naming her as one of their own: "Who do you think you are?" / "We're family."

!!!!
I'm glad you decided to post this! Buffy and Tara have one of my favorite friendships on the show.

Thanks! I've got notes on a meta series on the subject, but talking with on her LJ really gave me the kick-start; I wasn't sure if there was any interest. I said to rahirah upthread that I've seen almost zero exploration of their relationship in fandom, even in a shippy way, and there is definitely a connection there, if underexplored. Fandom is usually the place to "fix" those omissions in canon, so why not Buffy & Tara? I meant it when I said that your meta is one of the only other places I've seen any genuine observations about them. Which is - weird.

I loved your observations about her courage in Hush, btw. Just the fact that she approached Willow, not knowing if she was lesbian and thus receptive or not? I came out in the '90's and let me tell you took a lot of courage if you didn't know for certain that the other person was a lesbian as well. The risk was huge on top of the possibility of normal rejection.

It doesn't unrealistically Fix Everything about Buffy's depression or Tara's betrayal by Willow, but it's so strong and real.

YES. THIS.

And if Family awesome or what? At least the Buffy/Dawn/Tara connection is, but I didn't appreciate it until a recent rewatch. The first time through I was disappointed because I "expected" more from a Joss-penned episode - and sadly he chose that moment to reveal his out-dated prejudices about "southerners". See also: The-First-as-Eve in S7's "Showtime" (I was raised in Michigan, spent years in North Carolina where I met my sweetie and live in New England now - let me tell you there are PLENTY of "rednecks" here in the north as well.)

I need to reread your meta but I wondered why Tara has no southern accent whatsoever? Are we to fanwank that she trained herself out of it along the way? I was able to slip into a passable southern accent in North Carolina when the need arose, but I'm not sure if it's as easy or harder the other way around? It does imply some terrific discipline and focus on Tara's part.

Bonus: I would never have watched Amy Adams in Family and thought "Future Oscar winner here." *lol*
I love the Buffy/Tara connection. And the Dawn/Tara connection.

The Buffy/Willow connection drives the entire series.
I love the Buffy/Tara connection. And the Dawn/Tara connection.

Yes there's really this whole "sisterly" (Tara as metaphorical sister/ mother figure) connection of Joyce/Buffy/Dawn/Tara/Willow that runs around in a loop. Tara carries the role of "mother figure", the Mother Principle on her shoulders when the burden becomes to heavy for Buffy - it's no accident Joyce's photo is visible in DT. Or TTG. Buffy, the "Mother/Protector" to the entire world as well as Dawn literally, still sometimes needs a mother herself.

And Faith is in there as well a bit more distantly (the sister Slayer, and Tara seeing her energy in WAY). There's really a lot there when I begin to dig - or fanwank.

The Buffy/Willow connection drives the entire series.

*nods* Willow, "little sister" is the one who spurs Buffy to meet the Master in PG; then Dawn takes that role in the Gift. (I love the way the final scene of STSP parallels the Buffy& Willow scene in PG.)

have you written about this btw?

OT, I've responded to your OAFA poll but haven't in the comments and I will amend that soon.
Agreed on the importance of female relationships to Buffy. I mean, she killed Angel to save the world, but refused to kill Dawn.
I mean, she killed Angel to save the world, but refused to kill Dawn.

Hell yes. She walks away from SD at the end of S2 and tries to erase her identity - commits a "little death" so to speak but it doesn't take. At the end of S5 she is literally fucking dead because there was no other way to protect her sister and keep her promise to Joyce. (Have you read my meta on Buffy's promise in Listening to Fear? It was one of the first things I wrote on LJ and I'm still pretty happy with it. http://red-satin-doll.livejournal.com/1540.html)

I'm glad it didn't end with that. though.
Thank you for coming by to read it! I've got more such planned if it's of interest to you. I love talking about the ladies of the 'verse.
Reading this, I had a sudden awful vision of BtVS without its female friendships. There are many things that set the show apart, but without that, I don't know that anything else can redeem it. And the nature of those relationships, too: not a glib, Buffybot "You're my best friend", but the complicated reality of what it means to connect with and care for someone.

They love, and choose to love, even when it's painful and difficult to do so.

Yes, this. So much.

I'm so glad you've highlighted the Buffy/Tara friendship. It sits quietly at the foundation of so much else, and it's only when other layers topple down around it that it becomes particularly visible. I love Tara in Who Are You - without ever having met Buffy, she knows her better than her friends do. And she knows her better than she knows herself sometimes - when she tells Buffy in Dead Things that's it OK to love Spike, or OK to be with him even if she doesn't, she's found the little crack of light at a point of darkness. Buffy is so determined to just be wrong at that point, but when Tara allows her logic and (even) feeling, it's a challenge as well as a comfort.

Also, I have a great love of story told through place, so I am now happily contemplating all the important kitchen-based events that take place over the course of the show.

Thank you for stopping by to read this! *Does happy dance*

Reading this, I had a sudden awful vision of BtVS without its female friendships. There are many things that set the show apart, but without that, I don't know that anything else can redeem it.

Indeed! One of the things I loved about early seasons Buffy & Willow was how genuine their friendship seemed onscreen, even with all it's problems; I loved the way they were intimate with each other, and even physical (linking arms, hugging etc), which is something I had rarely seen onscreen growing up but I know is part of intimate friendships with other women. When that's missing - when connections between women are missing on a tv show, I notice it immediately and watching btvs makes it that much sharper. I'm watching Crossing Jordan right now, which has a female protagonist, and it's an entertaining show, but that aspect of it is missing. When that happens it feels like a hole, like an ache when I watch it.

not a glib, Buffybot "You're my best friend"

Oh, poor Buffybot; just mentioning her makes me want to cry now. lanoyee reminded me that she's a metaphor for Buffy in more ways than one - chosen or manufactured at the whim of a man, subservient to a predetermined duty, built to serve, then be discarded at will. outer-directed towards the needs of others rather than inner-directed like Ted or Adam. And just as she begins to touch for a moment something close to self-awareness, like a child does - differentiating between the Self and Others (parents) - she dies. Have you ever read mabus101 's "(metem)psychosis", btw? http://mabus101.livejournal.com/125867.html

the complicated reality of what it means to connect with and care for someone.

I'm trying to remember now who said recently that Buffy doesn't much distinguish between "types of loves" - her friends, her family etc. I think that goes back to your own observation "I don't know that we love in amounts. We love in ways." But it's very true generally - we think of lovers/partner relationships as being in their own little catagory, but the fundamentals of relationship dynamics, of being with someone in any sense, are very much the same. I've had relationships as intense as affairs, including the "come down" from the honeymoon phase, the disillusionment. Adding sex/marriage/living together simply adds another layer and deeper complications; difference in degree, not kind.

It sits quietly at the foundation of so much else, and it's only when other layers topple down around it that it becomes particularly visible.

YES, so so much so. This gets at what is central to Tara, her quiet strength. Sometimes she needs to be able to call up the power of the demon she was so afraid of being (Bargaining: "No one messes with my girlfriend"), but quiet doesn't have to mean weak or submissive. There's a lot of ink spilled re: "Willow's growing confidence" but it's Tara's growth I find extraordinary, especially given her family background, where quiet and submissive was a survival strategy.

I love Tara in Who Are You - without ever having met Buffy, she knows her better than her friends do. And she knows her better than she knows herself sometimes

THIS. I could write an entire book about that episode, it's superb and densely-layered. And that aspect of it is one of the best. Tara is already in a sense "a sister" to Buffy, connected in a way that her friends are not; the comments about "Buffy's soul" "jammed in where it doesn't belong" foreshadows Bargaining, and I suspect that it's actually a very accurate description of Faith's soul even in her own body. Buffy and Faith will "meet in the middle" by the end of S7 rather than being on opposite sides of the mirror and WAY is a key episode in their journeys, and Tara holds "the key" to unlocking the mystery in the present.

Thanks for these thoughts - she was a great (and under-valued) lady ... she could have been both powerful in her own right, and helped Willow to develop into a happier person.

She made mistakes, as we see in her spell-gone-wrong, but given a chance to discover her strengths within the group, and not just as Willows other half, she would have been amazing.

Similar faults were made with Anya, IMHO!
THANK YOU FOR STOPPING BY TO READ THIS! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

she was a great (and under-valued) lady ... she could have been both powerful in her own right

I've read that originally she was introduced to take over Willow's role as "the damsel who needs to be saved" on the show, but if that's true it didn't turn out that way. She was actually powerful in her own right ; early on in S4 - Hush and WAY f.ex she's the far more knowledgeable one; she's Willow's mentor and guide into something more powerful (with magic as both metaphor for lesbian sexuality and as itself). They're more powerful together. The show had to rob her of her power (Glory's mindsuck) in order to make her a "damsel", and in any case they'd also introduced Dawn in the "damsel" role.

I think that got a bit lost in S5 & S6; they focused on Willow's growing power, and of course Tara was left incapacitated by Glory and then later killed. I think that's unfortunate. I get the idea that the student outgrows the teacher, but that shouldn't mean the teacher loses the ability they already have.

When Anya says in OAFA that Willow is the more powerful of the two, what does that even mean, really? Part of the problem is, as with many things in the Buffyverse, the lack of consistency and world-building. Is magic a scientific phenomenon or a spiritual one? Does someone have a natural tendency/inclination towards it, or is it a matter of application and practice? Both? So again, what does it mean to say Willow is "more powerful"? More willing to practice every day? To reach deeper into more difficult spells? More ambitious, more destructive?

She was certainly powerful even without magic, as we know!

I haven't really sussed this all out before. Hmmm....But I could talk about Tara all day!

and helped Willow to develop into a happier person.

I don't know that anyone could have, and in any case that wasn't her responsibility. Only Willow can do that. That's one of THE single biggest mistakes we make in relationships: "If I love this person enough I can save them/change them/make them happy" (and vice versa.) I've lived that in my own relationship, seen it in my mom and nearly everyone I know.

Something the show emphasizes over and over is what a mistake it is when any one character invests too much of themselves in another person: Buffy and Angel, Riley to Buffy, Anya to Xander; (and perhaps in a way Giles to Buffy, as much to the girl as to Slayer). Tara's statement in WAY "I am you know...your's" seems romantic on the surface but it's chilling in hindsight.

She made mistakes, as we see in her spell-gone-wrong

Oh yes, and the show underplays that because they don't take a lot of time with her character, so it's easy to forget that. (Someone in fandom had to remind me of her spell-gone-wrong in Family a year ago. I was still riding the "Saint tara" train back then. Thankfully I've hopped off since.)

I admit I had read that she was a "beloved" character when I watched the show last year and kept waiting to fall in love with her. As a lesbian I loved the depiction of her and Tara (which I think is still unmatched in US television?) even when it got dark - because lesbians do hurt and abuse their partners; and they do go back to abusive partners. This all real - lesbians aren't cute, fluffy and harmless, nor are we monsters. I appreciated that.

But I didn't fall in love with Tara for herself until S6 and then I fell HARD. I still love her getting mad at Willow in All the Way: "I would if I didn't love you so damn much!" or "God what is wrong with you?" in TR. I understand why fans were devastated ten years ago because I was devastated last year. Such a waste of a fantastic character.

There needs to be more Tara fanfic - and not just W/T, pretty please! Did you read the story clockwork_hart1 wrote at my prompt a few days ago, "Talk to Me (That's What Friends Are For)"? http://clockwork-hart1.livejournal.com/11852.html

I'd never read this! Thank you!

Especially as it's rare to come across ideas/thoughts I've not seen before. Efforts (in fic and whatnot) to make Tara stand out tend to take her out of Buffy's circle, make her more of an individual (if you know what I mean), but you've shown beautifully that she was right at the heart. Actually, speaking of all the maternal issues, then Tara in many ways becomes the new Joyce (Dawn definitely sees her in a mother role, far more so than Buffy) - so maybe that's one reason she died? (Speaking in a meta sense.) Buffy wasn't allowed mothers, she had to struggle on her own...
I finally had a chance to read this and thought it was a very well-thought out look at Tara, and yeah, I agree, it would've been nice to see more of her.
I admit I didn't fall in love with Tara until S6 - and sometimes I'm not sure if it's because of the characterization, the lack of screen time, or Amber's performance in S4 & 5, which I really need to rewatch with fresh eyes. But when I fell for her - WHOA, I fell hardcore.

I really think ME totally dropped the ball with Tara on so many levels. The fact that there's still a dire lack of lesbian characters on american tv and lesbianism is STILL used as a plot point or a joke (including on Sarah's new series, The Crazy Ones) makes it that much worse IMO. UGH.

Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting! Your Keanu icon is giving me the giggles - it's just perfect.